|Originally Aired: May 31, 2006
Group Seeks Cross-Party Ticket for 2008 Elections
|A new political party called the Unity Party launched this week with the intention of creating a 2008 cross-party presidential and vice presidential ticket combining a Republican and Democrat.|
JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent: This week, several political veterans are launching a movement to change the look and tone of the 2008 presidential race.
Called Unity08, the group says it plans to draft an alternative presidential ticket headed by either a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. It would be chosen online in early 2008.
They call it a response to the increasing polarization between the two major parties. A recent poll by Princeton Survey Research, commissioned for Unity08, found that 82 percent of Americans think the parties can't address the nation's problems because they're so far apart on the issues, and 73 percent favor more choices in 2008, not just Republican and Democratic candidates.
But third-party bids for the White House have almost never succeeded. The Green Party's Ralph Nader tried three times; independent Ross Perot fell short twice; John Anderson's independent candidacy was unsuccessful in 1980, as was George Wallace in 1968.
Well, what makes Unity08 different? We ask two of its founders: Hamilton Jordan was White House chief of staff for President Jimmy Carter; and Doug Bailey, a former Republican Party strategist and founder of the political newsletter The Hotline.
Gentlemen, good to see you both.
HAMILTON JORDAN, Former White House Chief of Staff: Hi, Judy.
DOUG BAILEY, Former Republican Party Strategist: Nice to see you, Judy.
The definition of Unity
JUDY WOODRUFF: First of all, Hamilton
to you. "Unity," what does that mean? Does that mean the Democrats
and the Republicans together or does it mean something outside of both these
HAMILTON JORDAN: Well, let me put it this
way. I went to my son's graduation this weekend, and I heard a great quote I've
never heard before from Albert Einstein. It was that the greatest danger to the
world is not the bad people but it's the good people who don't speak out.
We're trying to build a platform utilizing the Internet that
allows the good American people to speak out about their frustration about the
polarized country that we live in politically.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Unity ticket, Doug Bailey, is that
Democrats and Republicans coming together or is it something outside the
parties, because the assumption is the parties aren't going to like this?
DOUG BAILEY: You know, in all probability, the party
leadership won't like it. Most of the members of both parties would welcome a
change in Washington's
politics. I don't mean members of Congress. I mean members of the parties, the
We're talking about a Unity ticket, which could be a
Republican and a Democrat running for president, vice president, in whatever
order, a Democrat first, a Republican second, or the other way around, or it
could be an independent candidate who presents a Unity team, representing
members of both parties.
What's happened, Judy, is that politics in Washington has become so polarized that, in
fact, the city has become paralyzed; it cannot deal with the major issues, and
the public knows that. And part of the problem -- part of the solution is to
get the two parties talking to one another, bring them back to the middle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But as we just indicated, Hamilton
the history is -- modern political history is that this hasn't succeeded. What
makes you think you've got a shot this time?
HAMILTON JORDAN: Well,
don't forget, Abraham Lincoln, who was the first third-party candidate to be
I think times are different. I say people are deeply
concerned. You mentioned Ross Perot. Mr. Perot jumped into the race at the last
minute, had one issue that he ran on, the budget deficit, was in and out of the
race a couple of times, and still got 20 million votes, didn't have the
Here we are years later. We have the American people
properly concerned about the future of our country and the world. We do have
the Internet, and we do have a mechanism through this Unity ticket to draw
hundreds of thousands and even millions of people together.
And so this decision -- I think what frustrates many people
today is they sit back and hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of people
in Iowa and New Hampshire make decisions on behalf of both parties and we end
up with candidates that don't represent the broad and general voter in the
Looking for a new kind of candidate
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you look at the people who have been
nominated in recent years, I mean, George W. Bush. I mean, Republicans would
say that he nominated the mainstream, certainly of the Republican Party. Look
at the Democrats who've been nominated, John Kerry. He didn't win. Al Gore,
they didn't get to the White House, but Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton represented
So where is the fringe candidate that's been the nominee?
DOUG BAILEY: I'm not sure I follow that question, Judy,
because what we're talking about is to reach the middle of American politics,
means to reach probably 60 percent of the voters. I don't mean that they'll all
vote for this particular candidate or the nominee of the Unity08.com effort.
But what is true is that about 60 percent of this country is
in the middle politically. And to the degree that they are given a candidate
who is willing to talk about some issues other than the issues that turn on the
base of the far-right or the far-left, like global climate change or energy
independence or the soaring national debt.
Those are subjects that don't get any discussion in Washington, despite the
fact that both parties are here. Their leadership is here, but there is no
serious discussion of serious and major issues.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So give us an idea, Hamilton
of the sort of candidate you're looking for then? I mean, there are some names.
There are, what, 10 or 12 names we hear regularly.
HAMILTON JORDAN: Well, those are -- we don't
go into this exercise with candidates of our choosing. You know, we're going to
build a platform that permits a national conversation for average people, by
way of the Internet, that allows them to talk about these issues, talk about an
agenda, and ultimately have an online convention that allows the people to make
this decision as to who is going to run.
And when you start talking about the practicality of winning
a race like that -- you've got to remember we're not talking about winning 51
percent of the vote. We're talking about winning 36, 37, 38 percent of the
vote. We think that's possible in the environment that we face today in this
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why? I mean, what -- because I hear you
saying there's frustration. And you see it...
HAMILTON JORDAN: Well,
the survey you mentioned, what are the numbers, Doug? You know, you ask in a
survey, "How many people are highly pleased with both political
parties?" And what's the number, 3 or 4 percent? Most people...
DOUG BAILEY: "How satisfied are you?" Three
percent highly satisfied; 46 percent highly dissatisfied.
Now, there's something going on here. And the public, I
think, has sort of had it up to here with the way politics is conducted in this
country, and particularly in Washington.
And they understand that the issues that are not being treated are crucial
issues for the future of this country.
They're not the wedge issues. I mean, issues like gay
marriage and abortion are used to turn on the base of the parties. And they are
important issues and worthy of debate, but they're not crucial to the future
and the future welfare and security of the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But there are people who feel passionately
about those issues.
HAMILTON JORDAN: Well, sure there are. But you mentioned
what's different today and a long time ago, when Jimmy Carter was elected.
The difference today is that, in both parties, the very
extreme elements control the nomination process. And a tiny number of people in
a few states make these decisions, and we're left with these options that are
increasingly not attractive to the American people.
If you had found the right candidate in 2000 or 2004, and
you could have put that man or woman, given them ballot access in September of
the election year, they could have won the election. There was broad
dissatisfaction with the choices that the American people have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me get back to the question that I
put to Doug Bailey a minute ago, and that is the people who emerged, the two
candidates who emerged from the process in '04, George W. Bush and John Kerry,
you know, whether people like an individual candidate or not, they represented
the mainstream of their parties, didn't -- I mean, isn't that the question?
HAMILTON JORDAN: I don't think -- they were
not attractive to large numbers of voters in the middle.
DOUG BAILEY: And I would add that the campaigns that they
ran, there's nothing wrong with this. They ran winning -- each side ran a
dramatic campaign that did more to turn out their base than any campaign in
history. The Democrats turned out more base voters than any Democratic campaign
in history, and the Republicans did the same, and that's why they won.
But in turning out their base vote, they appealed to their
base vote on terms of issues that, for the most part, the middle do not
perceive as crucial issues to the country which need addressing. They still
HAMILTON JORDAN: If people...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me -- I was just going to say...
HAMILTON JORDAN: Go ahead. It's your show.
A new vehicle for change
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I do want to get to -- but I also want
to ask you about the Internet. This is going to be a ticket that emerges from
Internet voting. I don't have to tell the two of you that some Americans don't
generally have access to the Internet.
It's something like, what, a quarter of the country, maybe a
little less than that, but principally those who don't are poor. Many of them
are African-American, and many of them are less-educated.
HAMILTON JORDAN: How many Americans...
JUDY WOODRUFF: But those people are -- I mean, are you
saying that they won't be part of this process?
HAMILTON JORDAN: No, no, we're sensitive to
that. How many Americans have access to the Iowa
caucuses and the New Hampshire
primaries? If you think the system -- not you -- but if your viewers think that
the current political system is working well and serving the interest of our
country, then what we're doing will not be attractive.
I think the system is broken; most people think that it's
broken. And we think that what we're going to do is invigorate the political
system and allow for this country to be turned around.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Doug Bailey, you're a Republican. Hamilton Jordan,
you're a Democrat. Each one of you is fine if it's the other party that's at
the top of the ticket here?
HAMILTON JORDAN: At this
point in time, when you look at the problems and challenges that face our
country, I'm an American first. And I think the idea of the Unity ticket,
enabled by the Internet, is a powerful idea that can change the direction of
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about the idea of -- in
this country traditionally, political ideas have percolated up from the people,
from the so-called grassroots. If this is a good idea, as you say it is, why
haven't we seen more independent, third-party candidates emerging around the
I mean, you can almost count on one hand the number of
people who have been able to pull this off at lower offices even.
DOUG BAILEY: It really is interesting, Judy. We have in the
Internet a vehicle now to organize suddenly, in terms of millions of potential
voters, so that the opportunity for a third-force, third-way candidacy is more
real now than it has ever, ever been.
One of the interesting things about television and
television technology is that nobody in politics ever asked the question: How
can we use it to help our democracy? They ask the question: How can we use it
OK, now we have a second chance. Whole new technologies are
going to change everything in this country again. Are we going to be bright
enough this time to say: How can we use these technologies to serve democracy
in this country?
And I think this is -- to me, this is a transformational
moment, the 2008 election, because the people sense that our politics is not
working. And the online convention is a transformational way to allow people to
change their country and take it back.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Doug Bailey,
Hamilton Jordan, thank you both.
HAMILTON JORDAN: Thank you, Judy.
DOUG BAILEY: Thank you.
||Group Seeks Cross-Party Ticket for 2008 Elections